So I wrote my post for this week, and then Ariel messaged me to tell me I skipped a chapter. So we’re going to quickly skim through chapter 24 because nothing especially worth trying to make fun of happens anyway, and because I can’t count.
Kicking off the “well, at least I don’t have to try to write jokes about this chapter!”, Al commits suicide. Christina suddenly runs in and grabs Tris out of their room to where Dauntless is pulling Al’s waterlogged body up from the Pit. Tris is understandably overwhelmed with emotions, jumping from anger at Al to guilt when she impulsively says she doesn’t respect him. Most of the chapter is Tris feeling torn between realizing she can’t hate Al, but can’t forgive him either. It’s pretty powerful stuff. Good thing I forgot I was supposed to write jokes about it! Phew! [Ariel says: I remember feeling exactly the same way as Tris. I was like oh my God I’m so annoyed that I can’t hate this guy and have to feel sorry for him. But I still hate him!]
Most interesting about this scene (especially in light of recent real-world events and conversation, coincidentally and tragically), we learn that the world of Divergent has some really fucked up notions about suicide. Tris reflects on how Abnegation considers suicide “an act of selfishness” (because obviously) because “someone who is truly selfless does not think of himself often enough to desire death”. [Ariel says: That doesn’t even make any sense. Why not just say it’s because of how much pain it would cause friends and family left behind?] In contrast, Eric delivers a speech about how Al’s suicide is “exploring an unknown, uncertain place” that he was not only “brave enough to venture into”, but also that this made him “one of our bravest”. Honestly, I kind of really liked this, because it showed (and did not tell!) some more ways that whatever this future society is trying to do to save humanity, it’s doing it really wrong. [Ariel says: That’s definitely true. It also emphasises (intentionally or not) how Dauntless are really unpredictable with what they decide is bravery vs. cowardice. Like they could easily have called him a coward here.]
We also learn more about Tori’s backstory with her Divergent brother, and she tells Tris that she hasn’t “stopped” looking for revenge, but is “waiting for my opportunity”, which is wisdom I am certain Tris will take to heart.
ALSO Four mansplains why he’s helping Tris.
“Taunting you? You mean when I threw the knives? […] I was reminding you that if you failed, someone else would have to take your place.”
Even by BBGT character standards, that’s a horribly inefficient way of conveying that message. [Ariel says: Yeah, that was not at all how that scene came across. Why would hurting Tris show her that? Couldn’t he have just continued to aim the knives where he was supposed to?] [Matthew adds: Amazingly, the movie actually did this WAY BETTER. There, Four’s reason was something like “Do you think Eric would have let you walk away from that unscathed?”, which makes it way more “Hey, there’s danger here you don’t understand yet”, while the book comes off as regrettably more “Hey, there’s danger here you don’t understand, WOMAN. LET ME PROTECT YOU.”]
Tris, Christina, and Will get new tattoos again, because I guess there’s actually nothing else to do in Dauntless-land. Making even less sense, Tris gets a tattoo of the Abnegation symbol, which seems like a really bad decision after she explicitly heard that Dauntless leadership is actively trying to kill people displaying outward signs of being more than just Dauntless.
They tear up Erudite’s anti-Abnegation propaganda and throw it into the river at the bottom of the chasm, in what the characters in the book actually describe as “a lighthearted session of symbolic document destruction”, so… make of that one what you will.
Tris and Will argue when Will admits he thinks maybe having one faction be in charge of the government isn’t the best idea. More importantly, apparently Will and Christina have started flirting.
Will and Christina share a lot of idle touches lately. I’ve noticed it. Have they?
Did all these touches happen in, like, the ten hours between this chapter and the last one?
Tris lets them go off on their own and claims she’s going to go talk to Four, but then reveals that “I don’t intend to talk to Four” because she wants to “find out where he’s going late at night”. Which means three paragraphs later she has gone to talk to Four.
He holds a black box in one hand and a syringe in the other.
“Since you’re here,” he says, without looking over his shoulder, “you might as well go in with me.”
I bite my lip. “Into your fear landscape?”
That would not have been my first guess. [Ariel says: It’s the weirdest *four* play you will ever experience.]
As I walk toward him, I ask, “I can do that?”
Why fucking not?
“See if you can figure out why they call me Four,” he says.
OKAY, GUYS. NOW’S YOUR LAST CHANCE TO GUESS.
Tris goes into his fear landscape. Unlike Tris’s fear landscape, Four’s fears are, you know, actual fears, as opposed to things that represent his real fears. Just in case you weren’t sure just how much Divergent was making everything up as it went along.
1. Fear of Heights!
Tris and Four are on top of a building! They immediately jump off of it! It is incredibly unclear how this is a better, less-Divergent response to a fear than how Tris responds to any of her fear simulations by also letting them happen immediately.
Tris and Four are stuck inside a tiny room and the walls are shrinking sort of. Tris uses the opportunity to get her flirt on.
“You know, most boys would enjoy being trapped in close quarters with a girl.” I roll my eyes.
“Not claustrophobic people, Tris!”
Or gay people! Or platonic friends! Or people who don’t particularly care for the sensation of objectifying women even due to circumstances beyond their control! The list keeps going, really.
I set my hand on top of his and guide it to my chest, so it’s right over my heart. “Feel my heartbeat. Can you feel it?”
“Feel how steady it is?”
“Yes, well, that has nothing to do with the box.”
This also has nothing to do with confronting a fear of claustrophobia.
I wince as soon as I’m done speaking.
Well, at least that’s two of us.
Four hints that he has this fear because of his childhood. BUM BUM BUM. [Ariel says: Quick show of hands for those of you who haven’t figured out who Four is. If you haven’t it’s probably because I didn’t put the hints that Roth has dropped along the way in bold.]
3. Fear of killing some lady!
Much like Tris’s fear where she’s forced to shoot her family, Four has a fear where he’s forced to shoot “a woman”. That’s the description we’re given to work with, so, uh, maybe at some point in the future we’ll be able to infer who “a woman” might be.
He shoots her, and Tris notices that this book doesn’t make any fucking sense.
Something puzzles me. These are supposed to be Four’s worst fears. And though he panicked in the box and on the roof, he killed the woman without much difficulty. It seems like the simulation is grasping at any fears it can find within him, and it hasn’t found much.
So let’s just keep in mind that the plot of the book is now that the plot of the book doesn’t make any sense. Except it’s not going in a “maybe society has it all wrong” way, but in a “maybe this one science fiction drug needs to be better” way. Which is less good.
4. Fear of… MARCUS???
In the next fear, they encounter a man that Tris immediately recognizes as Marcus, one of the Abnegation leaders.
“Here’s the part,” Four says, his voice shaking, “Where you figure out my name.”
“Is he…” I look from Marcus, who walks slowly toward us, to Four, who inches slowly back, and everything comes together. Marcus had a son who joined Dauntless. His name was… “Tobias.”
You mean that after the constant hints that Four was from Abnegation, he turned out to be the only other character from Abnegation that’s ever been mentioned? WHOA. [Ariel says: “I was not expecting that.” ~ someone who opened the book only to read this page.]
To be fair, I think I was actually surprised by this plot twist when I saw the movie and experienced the story for the first time, but I also recall being surprised that we were supposed to take the faction system seriously, so it didn’t really catch me at my most contemplative. [Ariel says: As soon as Tris mentioned that Marcus had a son who’d left, I was like, “We’re going to meet him later, and he and Tris will probably wind up banging.” I don’t know why I feel it’s so important to brag about this. It’s really not that much of an accomplishment.]
Marcus shows us his hands. A belt is curled around one of his fists.
Tris realizes that the rumors about Marcus abusing his child were true after all. They fight their way out of the fear simulation, and Tris is surprised to see that’s it. “Wait, a second,” any person with the ability to count might be thinking right around now. (“Uh…” you might say while scrolling to Chapter 24 at the top of the post. “Shhh…” I might respond.) “That was four fears. It couldn’t possibly be that stup-”
“That’s it?” I say. “Those were your worst fears? Why do you only have four…” My voice trails off. Only four fears.
Remember the trailers for A Million Ways To Die In The West where even Seth MacFarlane reacted to his own Back to the Future reference with an underwhelmed “oh”? This is like that.
So here’s why this is stupid, since I’m sure you’ve been waiting for this moment for a while now. “Four” was always a really dumb name. It just is. It was going to be a really tough sell to make “Four” make sense and seem cool. Like maybe he’s named “Four” because he killed four zombie ghosts and SURPRISE THERE ARE ZOMBIE GHOSTS IN THIS BOOK or some shit. That would have been something! But no, he’s named after how many things he’s afraid of. This seems like a really stupid thing to construct your identity around? Like, shit, what if you saw a tiger for the first time in your life and it started chasing you? Do you have to change your name to Five as you’re being mauled to death? What if Four suddenly finds himself trapped underwater? Or gets audited by the dystopian-future IRS? What about things that scare you in the abstract, but aren’t things you can really “face”, like global warming, or the fact that the nonrenewable resource we’re projected to run out of first is clean water? You mean to tell me that Four will never be scared of these things?
[Ariel says: When I first explained Four’s name to Jeremy (my boyfriend) he asked if I could start calling him three because he has three favourite flavours of ice-cream. I feel this is an appropriate request. And I would like to start being called Oreo because yum.]
I’m not even remotely buying it, although I guess that means it fits right in with the rest of the book, because seriously? A faction system?
Here’s your question for today’s post: If you went by a number like Four does, what would it be the number of? Feel free to be less or more stupid with your answers, everybody. We work with really weird bars over here.